By Goundo Coulibaly
From PHN Issue 46, Spring/Summer 2021
Millions of people have asthma. It is important to know the steps you should take when trying to keep your asthma under control.
Try these four ways to help keep your asthma under control!
- It is crucial to avoid your triggers whenever possible. Triggers are allergens and irritants like cigarette smoke, dust, mold, air pollution, pollen, fumes from cleaning products, and pests. Triggers cause irritation and inflammation in your airways. Breathing cold and dry air, strong emotions that change your breathing, and exercise can also be triggers. It is helpful to know your specific triggers and avoid them as best you can. For example, weather reports on TV and in newspapers often have information about daily pollen and air pollution levels, which can help you plan, especially if you will be outdoors.
- Do not skip any doses of medication, always take medications as prescribed. Asthma is a chronic disease and is present even when you do not feel any symptoms. Medications are prescribed based on the severity of the disease. Taking your medication as prescribed by the healthcare provider will help you control your asthma from getting worse and can prevent asthma attacks. If you have been prescribed an inhaler for daily use, make sure to use it every day and not just when you are having symptoms. If you have a rescue inhaler, make sure you know where it is and will have access to it when you need it.
- Learn how to correctly use your inhaler. Inhalers are different from each other. If you can, ask a healthcare provider to show you how to use yours correctly. Read the patient instructions that come with your inhaler. Follow the instructions to keep your inhaler clean – usually you should be washing the plastic holder and chamber once a week with warm water.
If you have a metered dose inhaler, keep track of how many puffs you are using and how many you have left. The number of puffs in an inhaler should be written on the side. Stop using the inhaler when you run out of puffs, even if it will still spray.
Using an inhaler requires some coordination. Ask your provider for a spacer if you have a condition such as Parkinson’s Disease or a history of stroke that makes it hard to coordinate fine motor movements.
To use an inhaler, remove the cap and shake well. Breathe all the way out. Place the mouthpiece of your inhaler in your mouth and seal your lips around it. Breathe in slowly at the same time you press the canister down. Hold your breath for as long as is comfortable. Exhale. Repeat these steps for each puff.
- Exercise safely. Exercising helps control your asthma by boosting your immune system and strengthening your breathing muscles. Low impact exercise, like yoga, and exercises that do not require constant exertion, like weightlifting, can be safer than basketball where you are constantly running up and down the court. Start slow rather than jumping into a new activity all at once.